Sunday the 24th of July 2016
Colossians 2: 6-19
Today I am going to preach on the Epistle reading from Colossians chapter 2. This word of God was written at a time where the Christian church at Colossae was under stress because of a number of Judaizers. And not only this, but there were the added problems of “philosophy, empty deception, traditions of men, and elemental world principles.”
Now we do not live in a world where Jews are attacking and disrupting the Christian Church, so it would be easy to think that the problems they were facing have nothing to do with us. For example, not one of us here is being urged to undergo circumcision for promised spiritual benefits as were the church as Colossae. However, I believe that we need to think more deeply on a reading like this one, because I do believe that it speaks very much to us today and helps us to see the ways that the culture around us is influencing the church.
As I was thinking about this reading the very first verse stood out to me. It says this: “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him”.
As Christians we speak of Jesus Christ being our Lord. When we come to worship we pray in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord as scripture tells us to do. But how often do we stop and think about what this means for our everyday life. Why is it that this church has to be told to continue to live their lives in Jesus? Should they not be doing that? Isn’t this basic to our understanding of the Christian life? It goes on to say that we are to live our lives: “rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught…’
The fundamental issue for the church at Colossae was that they moved away from what they had been taught and that this made them open to attack. It made them open to be lead astray. The seriousness of it was that they were open to be lead away from Jesus himself, without really realising that this was happening.
We all here today, are here because we have been taught the Christian faith. We are gathered here as believers in Jesus because we have received Jesus through his Word; his word to us as taught by others. Whether it be parents, pastors, Sunday school teachers or friends, we all have had our Christian belief passed on to us. God has used significant people in our lives who He has used to teach us the Christian faith. It would be an interesting exercise sometime to think about who these people are for you that God has used. And we know and we believe in Jesus Christ and we know that he is Lord. We know that this is true, but we have a real problem.
We have the same temptation placed before us, which is to forget what we have been taught, which make us open to same attacks on our faith, as the Christians at Colossae faced.
The culture around us does not accept our faith. Jesus Christ is not their Lord. Our cultures dominant philosophy of life, is more and more based on their own human tradition and thinking. In our culture Jesus is not God, they are. According to this world we are all individuals and we find our own meaning in this life, without being accountable to anyone else. We choose what we want to do, how we want to live. No one else can tells us how to live our lives. As Christians we say that Jesus Christ is our Lord. Since Jesus is our Lord his reign should extend over all of our lives, there should be no area of life that does not come under Jesus authority—even the mundane, routine, and secular parts of their lives.
But we all struggle with this because the culture around us, like that of Colossae so easily deceives us. Our reading says: 8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.
This verse is one that we need to mediate on, because it is something that we all struggle with. d there is real danger here for us. If we are honest how often do interpret Jesus Lordship of our lives in terms of just the “spiritual” or churchly things. Yet choose to let the driving forces of our culture guide the rest of life, what we might say are the practical and relevant parts. This is not what it means to say Jesus is Lord. If he is Lord his is Lord over all of our lives, we cannot go around justifying ourselves by separating our church life from the other parts of life. This means that all of our lives, whether it relationships, money, work, etc all come under Jesus Lordship. We are to seek him out and ask him what he wants us to do in these things. You and I are not the god of our lives and as followers of Jesus we need to recognize this and remind ourselves of this because this is what the culture tells us.
Another very subtle way Christians can so easily stray is by seeing Jesus and the church as a tool for finding a meaningful and fulfilling life. Where we come to Jesus wanting him to provide meaning for our life, strength for the important things that need doing during in our lives , and perhaps we might even want refuge from the hurts and sorrows of our lives. We want help from him, and all these can be good things to want. But the issue that often we want Jesus to do what we want, not what He wants from us.
However Jesus sets that agenda for his children. He is the one who takes hold of our lives and conforms them to his image. He is the one who includes us in his life. He is the one who redefines, reshapes and sometimes re-orientates our lives. When Jesus is our Lord, we don’t demand from him, but we receive from him what he wants to do with our lives.
Verse 14 says: He forgave us all our sins, 14 having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
In response to what Jesus Christ has done for you and me, the life of Christian discipleship, or following Jesus, means that we learn to walk with him though this life. Allowing him to lead the way, allowing him to direct our path in life.
Jesus is God and He has authority. And in that authority that he has he lived died and rose again for your sins. But more than that you are joined to him in baptism. We as his children who belong to him. We are God’s children through Jesus Christ, and Jesus has been given authority and we are to submit to his authority and let him conform us, let him work in us, let him shape us and let him conform us to his reality.
Letting Jesus work in us, means that we make a stand. That we stand on and keep what we have been taught by God through his Word. It means that we continue to focus our attention on Jesus Christ and where he is leading us, and not being distracted or diverted by the culture around us. We are to let Jesus impact every aspect of our lives.
It is a challenge to live life as a Christian and there are struggles so I encourage each of you to actively thinking about the ways in which you are tempted to be lead away from Jesus and to remember again what you have been taught and hold on to it tightly. I also encourage you to encourage one another in the same way, encouraging each other to remain firm in the faith. And finally to be open to seeing where Jesus wants to lead you in your life at this time, and to keep your eyes on him and follow him.